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Chef Michelle Dudash prepares Holiday Cocktails, Cheese ‘Truffles,’ Christmas Lasagna, Antipasto Platter 

Registered dietitian and chef Michelle Dudash joined us today with her newest recipe for a large batch holiday cocktail, made cheese truffles to nibble on with it and walked us through how to make her Christmas lasagna and antipasto platter. Here’s more from her:

Large-Batch Holiday Cocktail and Cheese “Truffle

1. Large batch cocktails (or mocktails!) are the perfect festive drink to serve when you are entertaining guests. Make it the morning of and quickly dispense for your guests without mess or fuss. 

Michelle created this Winter Wonderland large batch cocktail (or mocktail) that is on-trend for this holiday season. Made with POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, grapefruit juice, orange juice, and lemonade. 

Michelle created this recipe for POM Wonderful to educate on the health benefits and deliciousness of POM. POM Wonderful has more antioxidant potency than red wine and green tea, on average. Fueling yourself with healthy foods, drinks, and antioxidants is your best offense and defense, no matter the time the day. Every bottle of POM is made from pressing whole pomegranates and nothing else—no fillers, and never any added sugar.  

Make this drink in a beverage dispenser or pitcher. Add fresh pomegranate arils and sliced citrus for a pretty presentation.  

2. At service time, serve with beverage accouterments. 

Serve vodka or gin on the side with a jigger for guests to pour their own drink, or skip the booze altogether. Top with sparkling water or Champagne for some fun fizz. 

Fresh herbs like rosemary sprigs or thyme add a wintry touch. 

3. Serve with Michelle’s Pistachio-Crusted Cheese “Truffles” with Figs 

This recipe from Michelle’s new book is sure to please, where you roll the cheese balls in chopped pistachios and dried figs. 

Michelle loves using Wonderful Pistachios Roasted & Salted No Shells in her recipes, to save on prep time. 

Michelle has partnered with Wonderful Pistachios to help share the health benefits of these tasty nuts, which are a good source of complete plant protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Pistachios are also a good source of fiber.   

For more information visit, dishwithdudash.com.

Michelle’s Winter Wonderland Large Batch Cocktail (or Mocktail) 

Ingredients:

  • 48 oz POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice 
  • 16 oz grapefruit juice  
  • 16 oz orange juice 
  • 16 oz lemonade 
  • 2-3 cups vodka or gin (optional) 
  • Champagne or sparkling water as a topper when serving 
  • Rosemary sprig garnish 

Directions:

Mix all of the juice in a drink dispenser or pitcher. Add citrus slices and fresh pomegranate arils to garnish the dish. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with vodka or gin and top with Champagne or sparkling water, and a rosemary sprig. 

Goat Cheese Truffles with Pistachios and Figs

Goat cheese, pistachios, and figs—a perfect combination to turn into dessert. Figs contain no added sugar and a whopping 5 grams fiber per serving, whether they are fresh or dried. Serve with almond flour crackers or pair with sliced roasted chicken.  

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 cup (56 g) finely chopped shelled pistachios  
  • 1⁄2 cup (75 g) dried figs, finely chopped  
  • 1 package (4-ounce [115 g]) soft fresh goat cheese  
  • 1⁄4 cup (120 g) mascarpone or cream cheese  
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg  
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper  
  • Honey, for drizzling (optional)  

Directions:

Place the pistachios and figs in a wide, shallow dish. In a bowl with an electric mixer, whip the goat  

cheese and mascarpone until smooth, a few minutes. (Or, if you soften the cheeses at room temperature first, you can mix it by hand.) Add the lemon juice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and whip until incorporated.  

Use your hands to roll the cheese into bite-size balls. Then roll them in the pistachios and figs. Drop a bit of honey on each truffle, if desired, for added effect.  

Suggestions and Variations:

You can swap the pistachios out for toasted walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, or almonds.  

TOTAL PREP AND COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES • YIELD: 6 SERVINGS  

PER SERVING: 172 CALORIES, 11 G CARBOHYDRATE (2 G FIBER, 0 G ADDED SUGARS, 9 G NET CARBS), 7 G PROTEIN, 12 G FAT, 167 MG SODIUM.  

By Michelle Dudash, RDN, from the book Clean Eating Kitchen: The Low-Carb Mediterranean Cookbook: Quick and Easy High-Protein, Low-Sugar, Healthy-Fat Recipes for Lifelong Health

Michelle’s Christmas Lasagna and Antipasto Platter 

1. A Christmas tradition every year for Michelle is having lasagna either on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Eve Eve.  

To save yourself time and effort with the perfect seasoning, she recommends trying her Spicekick Marinara Spice Kit, which is now debuting its new name and packaging! 

Take one can of your favorite crushed tomatoes and stir in one packet of Spicekick Marinara, which contains all of the Italian cuisine essentials and is gluten-free and has no added sugar. 

Also, use half of a Spicekick Marinara packet to season the ricotta for layers and layers of flavor. 

Use the other half of the packet to season the ground beef while browning. 

2. For an easy appetizer or side dish, assemble an easy but impressive antipasta platter. 

Arrange burrata or mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers, olives, marinated mushrooms, canned fava beans, other pickled or roasted vegetables, and crackers or French bread. 

Drizzle with Michelle’s Balsamic Vinaigrette, which is simply made with her Spicekick Marinara Spice Kit, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon.  

For more information visit, spicekick.com 

Simple to Assembele Lasagna

I have way streamlined the lasagna-making process with this recipe. We’re talking in the oven after 30 minutes of prep. No kidding. No need to pre-boil the noodles, brown beef, or wash piles of pans. Instead of simmering a complex sauce, look for a high-quality jarred sauce made with extra-virgin olive oil, no added sugar, and only simple ingredients that you’d use at home. Et voila. All you have to do is assemble and bake. Everyone in my family loves it.  

FOR THE RICOTTA LAYER:  

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce, or 428 g) container low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 (9-ounce, or 255 g) box frozen spinach, thawed, and extra moisture squeezed out
  • 1 Spicekick™ Marinara Spice Kit 
  • Cooking oil spray  

FOR THE REMAINING LAYERS:  

Directions:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 Spicekick™ Marinara Spice Kit 
  • 1 pound (455 g) (93 percent lean) ground beef  
  • 1 1⁄2 cups (173 g) shredded Italian cheese blend  
  • 9 sheets whole-grain lasagna (regular noodles, no-boil noodles are unnecessary)  
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Spray a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan with cooking oil spray.  

TO MAKE THE RICOTTA: Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the ricotta, spinach, and Spicekick. Stir.  

Pour the crushed tomatoes and Spicekick into a large bowl. Crumble in the beef (you do not need to pre-brown the beef unless you really want to). 

TO ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNA: Spread 1 1⁄2 cups (300 g) meat sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place 3 lasagna sheets on top. Spread 1 1⁄2 cups (375 g) ricotta in an even layer. Repeat this set of layers once. Sprinkle with 1⁄2 cup (58 g) shredded cheese. Repeat the layers again and top with 1 cup (115 g) shredded cheese.  

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes, until aromatic and the lasagna begins to bubble around the edges. For a browned, crispy top, uncover and increase oven temperature to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7) and bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Or to keep the top soft, keep baking it covered. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting into to allow the liquid to reabsorb.  

RECIPE NOTE:  

If you think your kids will completely freak out at the site of green in the lasagna, it is fine to skip the spinach. Or do what I do: sprinkle spinach on half of the lasagna when you layer the ricotta. Half for you, half for them. Problem solved.  

TOTAL PREP AND COOK TIME: 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES • YIELD: 12 SERVINGS  

PER SERVING: 264 CALORIES; 9 G TOTAL FAT; 4 G SATURATED FAT; 21 G PROTEIN; 25 G CARBOHYDRATE; 4 G DIETARY FIBER; 73 MG CHOLESTEROL.  

By Michelle Dudash RDN, adapted from her book Clean Eating for Busy Families, revised and expanded (Fair Winds Press, 2019) 

Michelle’s Balsamic Vinaigrette 

Pour 1 Spicekick Marinara Spice Kit, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard into a mason jar. Whisk. Add 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil*. Screw on the lid and shake well to combine. Store in the refrigerator. 

*Note: The olive oil in the vinaigrette will become solid when refrigerated. To remedy this, you may remove the vinaigrette from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before using or gently warm the amount you will be using. Or use a different salad oil. 

For more from Michelle visit, MichelleDudash.com.